May 15th, 2009
09:01 PM ET

Too fast, too curious

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/30/obama.next/art.obamaeconomy.cnn.jpg]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

You don’t jump on the scales an hour after you push aside the doughnuts; you don’t pull out the Bermudas until at least late spring (and frankly, a good many of you should not do it at all – trust me) and the Obama White House might be better off if it were not already trying to roll out reports on how well the stimulus plan is working.

That is the consensus among some political and economic analysts, who suggest the Vice President’s progress report on the program, while laudable, is like those predictions of Hillary Clinton’s 2012 campaign – a tad premature.

Let’s look at just one part: Jobs. Vice President Biden confidently reports that 150,000 jobs have already been created or saved by stimulus spending, even though the money has been flowing only since mid-February. That number, however, is not an actual count of jobs. It is a White House estimate based on a mathematical formula that goes something like, “If Farmer Brown’s government spends $29 billion to create jobs in Punkyville, how many jobs will be created?”

Although there are undeniably new jobs out there, the White House does not expect any concrete reports on which jobs were created where until late summer or fall. In addition, the emphasis is on the “jobs saved” part of that statement since the stimulus money that hit the ground fastest is the cash that went to state governments to prevent possible layoffs.

And unmentioned in the rosy report from the Vice President is what the Department of Labor has to say: Unemployment continues to rise, and in April it was knocking on the door of nine percent, with close to 14 million Americans jobless. You can see why critics are chuckling. While the creation or protection of any jobs in the current environment can rightfully draw praise against the backdrop of our monumental economic troubles, 150,000 seems anemic, if not at least incremental.

One measure of how early we are in this process lies in the tally of money actually out the door. The stimulus plan calls for spending almost $790 billion dollars, or roughly what it would cost Trump to get his hair fixed. However, less than $29 billion has been spent so far. The Vice President cheerfully predicts the jobs, the growth, the recovery will all steadily move up as more money is spent and more months pass. (Vice Presidents, by the way, are paid to be cheerful (Dick Cheney not withstanding). Critics, meanwhile, say this report shows the government is either spending too much or too little, is clueless or helpless.

But mainly this report is early – too early to prove whether the stimulus is working or not.

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Melissa

    Patience children. Patience. He's trying to give you hope, but you people are so desperate to hate this administration that you ignore any good things that are happening. You are not children and you should have learned patience by now. The stimulus pkg has only been out for a couple months and not even all the money is released.

    And yes, it is working. Its slowing the decline to a bobbing cork instead of a plunge into the deep end. Patience and time will show us the true ramifications but you cannot see them in only such a short period of time.

    I thought when we grew up we were supposed to learn how to wait for things. Apparently not on the Republican party's side.

    May 18, 2009 at 11:28 am |
  2. Mike Deist

    The stimulus package is working to postpone massive corporate closures and layoffs. What most people aren't thinking about is when the money stops for the 5.7 million that have lost jobs in 2009. When the end of summer rolls around, these unfortunate people won't have an income from unemployment to pay their credit cards, home mortgages, etc. That is when the rubber will meet the road!

    May 17, 2009 at 3:23 pm |
  3. Art

    Washington is in La La land! Giving all my hard earned money to AIG, auto and banks isn't going to solve the problem.Until corp. America starts to keep its money and "jobs" in America there is no end to this! Wake up America, this is "marketing" at its best!

    May 17, 2009 at 11:15 am |
  4. Terry, TX

    Hello....didn't the American tax payers scream loud and clear...in February the first Job Pork Bill was not for jobs but Pork and Pay for Play.... catastrophe...vote on it by Friday....crisis...no time to read 1200 pages ...your an obstructionist if you vote no (actually they were the only smart ones)....oh and I am on a president's day vacation and I'll sign it Tuesday. However, this administration now can proudly call themselves as the administration who has spent more money than anyone in the whoooole wooorld....even more than all our presidencies..and nothing to show for it.

    May 16, 2009 at 8:18 am |
  5. Lampe

    Exactly what world is Biden living in? Yesterday, and Today, Auto Dealers and their workers have lost their businesses and their jobs. so how in the world is that saying The Stimulus Package is working?

    May 15, 2009 at 7:37 pm |
  6. Wendy

    I hate to agree with Sandra but she's right. Hopefully the Stimulus Package will work, but look at what's going on with the Auto Industry... and the damage hasn't even started yet. Wait til all the plants and dealerships are closed. Then we'll see just how many people will be hurt through the trickle down effect of lost business and jobs.
    Will the stimulus packsge bring as many if not more jobs then the ones we're going to lose? We can only pray. In the big picture too much shake up could put us in a tailspin only to land us in a 3rd world counrty called the new USA. So upside down we can't help ourselves or borrow money from other countries.

    May 15, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  7. Sandra

    It isn't working!! Throwing money around doesn't create enough jobs. Economies go through cycles on their own and will heal on their own if our leader doesn't destroy it with bad policies.

    Jobs needs to be created by private industry. Obama needs to have business friendly policies that will encourage growth and companies to stay in America, not look at them to fund his programs. A job created with government money and funded by taxpayers is NOT job creation.

    May 15, 2009 at 12:29 pm |